In the name of full disclosure, I’ll be brutally honest: I’m not a fan of “CATS.”

The feline musical is one of those shows you either love or hate, and I’d have to plant myself in the latter camp.

That said, I was able to put that aside when I arrived at Pinewood Bowl on Thursday night for the opening performance of the musical, and I’m glad I did, because despite heat wave conditions and the ever-present Pinewood Bowl sound problems, the cast and crew have put together a pretty good production.

About 30 minutes before the show, a sizeable crowd already had gathered, most to the right side of the stage under the shade of trees. The mid-evening sun still was blazing down and was taking its sweet time disappearing.

But as twilight set in, the cats came out to play. Seemingly out of nowhere I was surrounded by cast members frolicking, prancing and crawling through the crowd. The cats stretched on the sidewalk, chased small children, begged for popcorn and crept up on unsuspecting audience members.

One even stole a purse — to the audience’s amusement, of course — and two others waited to pounce as a young girl teased them with a large piece of string.

But soon enough, the time came for the music to begin, and the cats crept toward the stage, ready to celebrate their magical ball and do the things cats do, like jump off ledges and lick themselves.

But before I forget, kudos to the superb orchestra. The music sounded spectacular and really resonated in the bowl. It’s quite a nice little place for a show. If only the sound system could have been so good.

Sure, it’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: On such a huge stage, it’s hard to hear anyone who’s not miked, and that was the case Thursday night. If a main character wasn’t singing, the audience just plain didn’t hear them.

But for those we could hear (the leads), those microphones were well-deserved. The leading cast had some amazing voices, especially from Sandy Fischer Van Pelt, who played Grisabella and shined on her solo numbers.

And the audience really applauded the rowdy numbers in “CATS” like “Rum Tum Tugger.”

But for the most part, children and adults alike were either completely enthralled or patiently disinterested.

Like I said, you love it or you hate it.

But don’t let that detract from a cast, crew and production that worked with what it had to present some truly shining moments.

Now if I could only get these songs out of my head.

Reach Joel Gehringer at 473-7254 or


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